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Monday 3 July

Steaming second-class car on the way to Rome, the first time this trip; we've been sitting at 74.907 just S of some kind of cement works a bit out of Orte. Train quite crowded: I think every seat in this car is taken.

Up this morning at just before 7; during my sleep I was thinking about my potential book on the Flaminia, but slept well. Second day of this slight sore throat, though: no reason I can see for it, either. Did shopping before breakfast; lots of competition at the alimentari, chiacchiere, etc. so that all I had at home was about a pint of milk (and a curious drink, flavored with cedar, that turned out quite disappointing: merely some very slightly odd-flavored soda pop). Left the house at 0930 to be safe, for 1013 train: but the ticket window was open, there was no line, nor any problem with my abbonamento 168ML. A plain round trip to Rome is over 30 ML, so — as the railway woman pointed out — in six uses I've broken even. This first one I don't even know what I'll see in the city: I have my camera and lots of film, and I'm wearing long trou.

At the station a tramezzino of indistinguishable stuff drowned in mayonnaise, as often; also a cup of hazelnut icecream. Little shopping list: antiseptic ointment, bathing suit, limoncello, another copy of the Flaminia Laziale book by the Zecca dello Stato, vitamin C; prolly a few other things. We're due to arrive at 12:40‑something and will surely be a few minutes late; the train is now tearing thru the Lazio towards Settebagni clearly trying to make up for lost time. My train back is at 1912.

Gosh Rome is tiring. Hot, too: my first time in July — I'm still not sure why I advanced my usual fall stay, other than those sunflowers in Spoleto. Anyhow, this is definitely a killer, I'll try never to do Rome in the summer again.

Sitting at a small square green tableclothed table at 77a, v. Agostino de Pretis at five minutes to four, hot, exhausted, hungry, thirsty. Had 2 squares of very good pizza with green olives, a small bottle (50 cl) of fizzywater and a banana fruit shake (no icecream in it) — "frullato" is the word I learned today — and a pack of gummies with vitamin C in 'em: 12ML including the air-conditioning.

[image ALT: A tapered stone column, shaped like a long slender cannon, with a cross in its mouth. It is the Anisson monument on the grounds of the basilica of S. Maria Maggiore in Rome.]

Cross and culverin: the "Créquy" monument against the belfry of St. Mary Major.

Walked around St. Mary Major for maybe an hour; I inquired about tripods, and was told by one of the leaders of the "Jubilee Volunteers" (a regular army of 'em, maybe 40 on duty) that if a church allows photography, it normally allows tripods. If so, that should do me wonders in places like S. Maria Maggiore, where the mosaics are so far away that flash is useless. I'll try it next time.

After several inquiries, I was led to the Créquy monument​a — or to something, anyway, that more or less matches the general idea I had of it. The inscriptions were not helpful, neither the coats of arms. I took pictures, and will check with James next time I call. Whatever it is, is outside near the sacristy, in a little parking lot. Two workers were sitting on the steps of it, having lunch: I told them the story of it, since they were looking at me oddly. . . .

From there to S. Pudenziana, brief visit actually — the Roman house etc. not visitable: inagibile (water, cracks), but the young parish volunteer staffing the little table was extremely helpful and a mine of information: including, over my objections, making careful photocopies for me of the list of churches of Rome in the phone book, the idea being I can use it to call around for opening hours. In addition to a bunch of stuff I knew, some stuff I definitely didn't: like S. Paolo alla Regola having (on some days of the month) a visitable Roman-period underground, etc.

Now I've only walked about twelve blocks after leaving the train station (where there is an Internet connection service for the public in the basement; in addition, James's internet caffé in or near the v. Marsala exit, although I didn't really look for it so this may not be true): but jeepers it's hot.
The interior hall, measuring maybe 100 meters long by 20 wide, of a modern train station. It is a view of the Stazione Termini in Rome.

The entrance hall at Termini train station,
remodeled for the 2000 Jubilee Year.

Giubileo has resulted in a much more attractive and somehow roomier train station; gypsies being very pushy two blocks away down the v. Cavour, I had to be very nasty to get rid of them. A security cordon around St. Mary Major: metal barriers and you enter thru a checkpoint; knots of police there, inside the church, and across the via Liberiana, watching: didn't notice them armed.

So — restored, but dreading the heat the instant I step out again (had an additional aranciata amara), will prolly go peer at S. Carlino — I've never been inside — maybe Sant' Andrea, and then that'll prolly be it, time to catch my train. Gosh it's hot.

It's still hot; the difference is that I'm sitting down on my train, Binario 2 at Termini, about 5 minutes before departure. Actually it's hotter in here, despite open windows, than it was during my post-banana-shake prowl of churches.

S. Carlino in fact closed, with a slightly more eccentric schedule: morning, then closes for lunch, then opens for one hour, 3 to 4 P.M. Two young Frenchwomen standing there much disappointed that their new guidebook had the wrong hours; I didn't make any new friends, I'm sure, but I told 'em the only thing that changed as often as Rome opening hours was French currency —

[image ALT: A stone statue of a recumbent old man behind a small pool of water. It is the Arno fountain at the corner of the Quattro Fontane in Rome.]
Quattro Fontane:
personification of the river Arno.
At the fountain on the opposite corner, a woman asked me for help in reaching the water with her plastic bottle; which I did — she's staying 35 days in Rome at a convent, where the good Sisters close down at 10:30 P.M. which eliminates most concerts for my new pal: a French Canadian from Québec city. She walked me to S. Susanna, where I'd never been although it's my national church.b I liked it a lot. It has all the ingredients for disaster: decoration covering almost every available inch, trompe-l'oeil, gilt baroque architectural frames, very large paintings (and not too good) of ultra-churchy subjects — although the basic sequence around the nave, Susanna and the old voyeurs, is good. Everything I don't like, but it all hangs together, neither the paintings nor the frames overwhelming the other; the ceiling is exceptionally fine (in the style of encrusted coffered ceilings, gilt and painted); the space is well-proportioned, warm, pleasant.
An ornately carved coffered wooden ceiling, in the center of which a painting of the Virgin Mary. It is the ceiling of the nave of the church of S. Susanna, in Rome.

S. Susanna: the coffered ceiling of the nave.

In the sacristy, a fresco, found a few years ago in 7000 pieces in an 8c tomb: Madonna and Child, 2 female saints, evangelists with bits of their respective gospels. My guess is in fact much earlier than 8c, maybe 6c even: elegant courtly Byzantine style, the Virgin holding a handkerchief like a ranking lady of the time — John's text read "In principio erat berbum, et berbum erat aput Deum"; it's extraordinary how people don't look at what's in front of us: the nun showing the thing when I said, look at the phonetic spelling, this guy had never actually read the gospel, but only heard it read to him: berbum with a b — said yes that's Latin, verbum; it took me maybe a minute to get her to see the nonstandard spelling; it was like Who's on First for a while. (No pics, or at least I didn't ask; as for the church, I'm going to have to do a tripod tour.)

The Acqua Felice — drank a lot of it, my Québeck friend left me here for her nunnery, telling me to be happy (at first she'd misread me as a cynic!): certainly for a moment, the best water in Rome splashing all over me, I was; three times, actually, as I revolved around the largo S. Susanna clicking at things, and drinking more water.

S. Bernardo alle Terme is surprisingly small and bland, although the tombstones are interesting: the dome is the star, of course. S. Maria alla Vittoria had a rosary recitation, attended by about 15 people; having seen which I scurried out: didn't see S. Teresa, who is in a side chapel I think.

Train station, and here I am coursing thru N Lazio (just passed 72.877) somewhere around Gallese — train really zooming, hope it keeps up: if on schedule I'll still be home at a few minutes past ten.

Later Notes:

a This obscure historical memento has a very interesting story behind it: a bit of street rioting and murder, a run-in between a Pope and a king of France, and differing opinions to this day, depending on your nationality. It has nothing directly to do with the Créquy family, and I should have referred to it as the Anisson monument, but my introduction to it was via the Souvenirs of the Marquise de Créquy, and that's the way I think of it, with some justification as you will see on my page on it.

b Not any more. The American national church in Rome is now, since 2017, S. Patrizio.

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Page updated: 7 Dec 20